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Headlines for Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Records: Roberts Missed Most Senate Ag Committee Meetings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal records indicate U.S. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas has attended barely one-third of his Senate Agricultural Committee meetings during the past 15 years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the three-term Republican from Dodge City was present for 71 of the 201 agriculture committee sessions from 2000 to 2014. Roberts has emphasized endorsements from Kansas farm, crop and livestock organizations during his re-election bid against independent candidate Greg Orman. Orman's camp says the attendance figures show that Roberts is not representing the interests of Kansans. A Roberts spokesman called the senator a "tireless warrior for Kansas agriculture" and said the comment by Orman's people is just an attempt to distract voters from looking into Orman's "liberal, dishonest record." The ag committee is responsible for farm, nutrition and forestry issues.


Hospital Officials Say Patient Does Not Have Ebola

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas Hospital officials say preliminary tests show a patient who arrived Monday with Ebola-like symptoms does not have the deadly disease. Chief medical officer Dr. Lee Norman said Tuesday the man is believed instead to have another tropical disease common in central and western Africa, although doctors haven't determined which one. Norman says the patient was serving as a medic on a ship off Africa's west coast when he became ill about a week ago and flew back to the U.S. He says the ship services the oil industry, and that the medic had treated a number of people with tropical diseases, including typhoid. The man, who lives in Kansas City, Kansas, is being treated in an isolated room at the hospital with its own air-handling system.


Brownback: Kansas Preparing for Potential Ebola Cases

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says the federal government is not doing a good-enough job protecting the country against the Ebola virus, requiring the state to step up to protect Kansans. Brownback had no specifics Tuesday about what more the federal government should do. Nor did he offer details about what Kansas is doing, other than to say that health officials are meeting over the issue. Brownback says the state plans to make statements and issue advisories this week. Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer says Kansas has a hazards plan, but offered no details on how it would deal with Ebola. Brownback says the federal government's response is too casual and is not as intense as needed at the U.S. border or in west African countries where Ebola is originating.


Tuesday Is Voter Registration Deadline in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Time is running out for Kansas residents to register to vote in the November 4 elections. The deadline is Tuesday, one day before advance voting begins in some of the state's 105 counties. People can register using a paper form, either printed from the Kansas secretary of state's website or obtained from a county election office. They also can register online through a site operated by the secretary of state and the Kansas Department of Revenue. Applications can be submitted in person to county election offices before the close of business or faxed, mailed or emailed by midnight Tuesday. Kansas residents registering to vote for the first time must submit a birth certificate, a passport or other proof of their U.S. citizenship.


Tea Party Group Endorses Roberts in Senate Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A national tea party group that derided U.S. Senator Pat Roberts during Kansas's bitter Republican primary race is now him in the general election. Leaders of the Tea Party Express made the announcement Monday in Wichita. Roberts says he is pleased with the endorsement, saying the tea party activists ``have fire in the belly.'' Roberts won less than 50 percent of the vote in defeating tea party favorite Milton Wolf in the August GOP primary. The three-term Senate incumbent is now in a tight race with independent Greg Orman. Orman's campaign says that Roberts' embrace of what it called extremists like Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express is more evidence that Roberts is part of a broken political system.


Dissident GOP Group Grows in Kansas Governor Race

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Democratic challenger Paul Davis says a group of dissident Republicans backing him in the Kansas governor's race has grown to more than 500 members. Davis said at an Overland Park community center Tuesday that Republicans for Kansas Values added more than 300 educators, superintendents and local school board members. He also said more former GOP elected officials have joined the group. Davis received national attention in July when his campaign announced the group's founding with more than 100 mostly former GOP elected officials. Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Clay Barker dismissed Tuesday's announcement as insignificant and the re-airing of old Davis campaign themes.


GOP Women's Group in Kansas Hosts Former CEO

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard is urging Republicans to support the re-election of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Pat Roberts, saying now is not the time for a protest vote. Carly Fiorina spoke to about 450 people Tuesday in Wichita at an event hosted by Women for Brownback and the Republican House Campaign Committee. She said Americans are losing a sense of limitless possibilities. Brownback touted his own economic tax policies aimed at helping small businesses grow. The governor said the best way to help something grow is to not tax it. Fiorina stepped down from Hewlett-Packard in 2005 amid upheaval about the company's performance following her decision to buy computer maker Compaq Computer.


Fatal Shooting of Kansas Teen Ruled Justified

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A county attorney says police and sheriff's deputies were justified in the fatal shooting of an unarmed eastern Kansas teenager. KSHB-TV reports that Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting issued his ruling Tuesday in the death of 18-year-old Ottawa resident Joseph Jennings on August 25. The shooting took place in a parking lot after police received a 911 call about a man waving a handgun and putting the weapon in his waistband. The caller turned out to be Jennings. The responding officers told him to raise his hands. Instead, the county attorney's report says, Jennings pulled a dark item from his waistband and pointed it toward some officers, who opened fire. The item turned out to be sunglasses. Relatives have said Jennings was depressed and may have wanted to goad police into killing him.


Apparent Deal in Works in Spirit AeroSystems Suit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by the Machinists union against Wichita aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems appears headed for an out-of-court resolution. A filing Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, indicates the parties have reached a conditional resolution. It notes the union has agreed to withdraw its motion for an injunction to block Spirit from selling off its fabrication operations or laying off workers pending arbitration. The filing indicates the union plans to dismiss its lawsuit. The lawsuit contends the Machinists gave up the right to strike and accepted pay cuts and smaller wage increases in a 10-year contract negotiated in 2010. In exchange, Spirit agreed to maintain major manufacturing operations in Wichita. It is unclear from the filing what the conditional agreement entails. A hearing was held last week.


Victims in Chicago Plane Crash Were Kansas Doctors

CHICAGO (AP) - A Topeka hospital has confirmed the identity of the victims of a small plane crash in suburban Chicago. Representatives of Stormont-Vail HealthCare say the victims of Sunday night's plane crash included two of its doctors. They were neurosurgeon Tausif Rehman and pulmonologist Ali A. Kanchwala. Stormont-Vail also identified the third victim as Maria Javaid, a cardiologist at the Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Javaid was identified as Dr. Kanchwala's wife. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash but has not yet discovered why the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron crashed in the suburb of Palos Hills shortly after takeoff from Chicago Midway heading for Lawrence Municipal Airport. Local police say the plane crashed in the only vacant lot in a densely populated neighborhood. Witnesses say the plane was circling the area and it appeared that the pilot was looking for a spot to put the plane down where it would not injure anyone on the ground. Barbara Janusz says she thinks the pilot of the twin-engine plane "sacrificed his own life" to save the lives of dozens of residents of the block. 


Christie Returns to Kansas to Stump for Brownback

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made another trip to Kansas to campaign for Republican Governor Sam Brownback's re-election bid. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He joined Brownback on Monday at Freddy's Frozen Custard in Wichita where he visited with restaurant patrons. A private fundraising event was scheduled later Monday. Brownback is locked in a tough race with Democratic challenger Paul Davis but Christie said indications from several polls show Kansas voters are swinging toward Brownback as they consider what he called the positive record of Brownback's first term in office.


Kansas State Salina Expands Pilot Program

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A pilot degree program offered through Kansas State University Salina will expand to the Kansas City area. The university announced Monday that the expanded program will start next year. Students will be able to take flight training from Air Associates in Olathe, general-education classes from Johnson County Community College, and other classes online from Kansas State Salina. The students will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical technology-professional pilot. New federal regulations require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight experience, an increase from the previous 250-hour requirement. But co-pilots with a four-year degree need only 1,000 hours. An informational meeting will be held from 11 am to 2 pm Saturday at Air Associates in Olathe.


Court Hears Water Dispute Between Kansas, Nebraska

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is considering how to resolve a long-running legal fight between Kansas and Nebraska over the use of water from the Republican River. The justices on Tuesday appeared to agree with recommendations of a special master who found Nebraska should pay $3.7 million in damages to Kansas for using more than its legal share of the river's water in 2005 and 2006. But they were more doubtful about making Nebraska pay a $1.8 million penalty that exceeds Kansas' actual damages. The justices also seemed skeptical about Nebraska's push to change the formula for measuring water consumption. Nebraska says the formula is unfair. The dispute centers on a 1943 compact that allocates 49 percent of the river's water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado.


Topeka Will Vote on Future of Heartland Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka residents apparently will vote on the city's plan to buy the Heartland Park racing park. Shawnee County election commissioner Andrew Howell said Monday a petition drive to put the issue to a vote collected more than the 2,132 valid signatures needed to force a vote on the issue. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports city officials will schedule the election after wording and other legal requirements are met. Organizers of the petition drive want to overturn the city governing body's vote to buy the financially troubled racing facility and expand its redevelopment district. They contend it's not a financially good deal for the city. City officials say buying Heartland Park would help address the need to cover about $8 million in STAR bond debt on the property.


Hays Medical to Co-Own St. Rose Center in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) - Centura Health and Hays Medical Center plan to become co-owners of St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center in Great Bend. Officials with the organizations announced the decision Monday. St. Rose vice president Leanne Irsik said the arrangement will allow St. Rose to connect its primary and specialty care. She says Centura doesn't have specialty groups close to Great Bend and many patients already use Hays Medical for those medical needs. The Hutchinson News reports that Hays Medical will employ and manage St. Rose staff, while the St. Rose Health Center Board will select an administrator. Centura Health and HaysMed will be equally represented on the health center's board of directors. The agreement is expected to be final this winter.


Kansas Teen to Be Tried as Adult in Fatal Fire

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Hutchinson teenager will be tried as an adult in a fatal fire that killed his mother and sister. Reno County Judge Patti Macke-Dick made the ruling Tuesday in the case of 15-year-old Sam Vonachen, who was 14 when the fire occurred at the family home in September 2013. Prosecutors allege Vonachen set the fire by pouring gasoline throughout the house. His 47-year-old mother, Karla Jo Vonachen, and his 7-year-old sister, Audrey, died. The boy's father escaped the fire. reports that Vonachen faced two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in juvenile court. The judge's ruling means the juvenile case is dismissed and new charges will be filed in adult court.


ACLU Seeks to Force Kansas to Allow Gay Marriages

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a federal court order to force Kansas to allow same-sex couples to marry as the group challenges the state constitution's ban on gay marriage. The ACLU filed its request Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, only three days after it filed a lawsuit in Wichita and Lecompton in Douglas County on behalf of lesbian couples who unsuccessfully sought marriage licenses. The ACLU is requesting a preliminary injunction and an order temporarily restraining the state from enforcing its ban on gay marriage. The lawsuit came after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five states seeking to save their gay-marriage bans. The states included Oklahoma and Utah, which are in the same appeals court circuit as Kansas.


Contract Talks Between Union, Textron End Abruptly

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Machinists union official says contract talks with Wichita's Textron Aviation have fallen apart and the company has vowed to outsource work to other states. The Wichita Eagle reports a vote on a new contract was supposed to happen on Wednesday, but on Sunday negotiators for Textron walked out of a meeting when pushed to put in writing that the company would keep jobs in Wichita. Textron is the parent company of Cessna and in March bought Beechcraft and formed Textron Aviation. Machinists District 70 spokesman Frank Molina says the company suggested it wanted to negotiate a single contract for job protection, so stating in writing it would keep jobs in Wichita seemed like a no-brainer. A Textron Aviation spokeswoman did not immediately returns calls Monday seeking comment.


Review of Missouri Water Patrol Merger Continues

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are gathering more testimony on the wisdom of the decision three years ago to make the Water Patrol a division of the State Highway Patrol. A special House committee planned to hear from the public and a state trooper during a meeting Tuesday at Osage Beach City Hall. It's the second of four scheduled hearings on the 2011 merger. The review follows the May drowning in the Lake of the Ozarks of a handcuffed Iowa man who fell from a trooper's boat. The trooper had arrested 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson on suspicion of drunken boating. Lawmakers now question whether the merger of the Water Patrol and the Highway Patrol overwhelmed troopers while saving the state money. Combining the departments was supposed to save about $3 million a year.


2 Injured in Explosion in Southwest Kansas

JETMORE, Kan. (AP) _ The state fire marshal is investigating an explosion at a southwest Kansas home that left two men severely injured. The blast happened just after 6 pm Sunday in rural Hodgeman County, south of Jetmore. KWCH-TV reports that the two men are a father and son who were flown to a hospital in Wichita, about 140 miles away. Both were in critical condition Monday. The cause is under investigation, but the Hodgeman County sheriff says a propane tank is suspected. The house was destroyed.


Kansas State to End Equestrian, Add Women's Soccer

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University plans to drop equestrian as a sponsored sport and replace it with women's soccer. The university announced Monday the equestrian team will compete through 2016. The women's soccer program will start in 2017. The university said fewer than 40 NCAA institutions sponsor equestrian as a sport and only 19 are Division I schools. Athletic director John Currie says Kansas State needs to sponsor 16 varsity programs to remain a Division 1 FBS program. Kansas State is the only Big 12 school without a women's soccer program. In 14 years of competition, the school's equestrian program won five individual national titles and three team Reserve National Championships.


ALCS Game 3 Postponed Because of Rain

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Game 3 of the AL Championship Series was postponed Monday because of rain. The game was pushed back to Tuesday at 7:07 pm. Game 4 was rescheduled for Wednesday at 3:07 pm and Game 5, if needed for Thursday at 3:07 pm. Kansas City leads the best-of-seven series 2-0. Both managers said they could bring back their Game 1 pitchers on regular rest: James Shields for Kansas City and Chris Tillman for Baltimore of they could remain with the starters who had been slated to pitch Game 4: the Royals' Jason Vargas and the Orioles' Miguel Gonzales. Major League Baseball Senior Vice President Peter Woodfork says: "We want a game we know we can get through nine innings, hopefully play dry baseball, not risk player safety or uncomfortable fans."


Dunn Replaced by Johnston on US Women's National Soccer Team

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Crystal Dunn has been replaced by fellow defender Julie Johnston on the U.S. women's national team after spraining ligaments in her right knee during training. U.S. Soccer spokesman Aaron Heifetz said that Dunn could miss up to four weeks, which would include the first round of World Cup qualifying. The Americans play the first of three games in a six-day stretch against Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday night. They play Guatemala on Friday night and Haiti on Monday night. Johnston, who made her national team debut in February 2013, was among the final roster cuts after a two-week training camp. The National Women's Soccer League's rookie of the year should provide more versatility in the defensive midfield.




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